"Every time the Principle of Least Action comes up I work on it.”   Richard Feynman

PH621: Classical Mechanics

Fall 2010

This is an advance course in Classical Mechanics that has long been part of our graduate physics curriculum. It is intended for first year graduate students in Physics, and serves as the foundation for the various branches of modern physics.

content of this page

Besides important announcements, in this page you will find links to:

    • the syllabus,
    • the homework,
    • exam dates,
    • the books, and
    • where/when to find me.

the syllabus

It is mandatory to read the syllabus. Here's the current PDF file (115 KB, 13 pages). The current version is from August 12, 2010.

the homework

    1. Homework #1 is due on September 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM. (PDF file, 197 KB, 6 problems.)
        A useful list of integrals containing the square root of ax2+bx+c can be found here.
    2. Homework #2 is due on September 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM. (PDF file, 76 KB, 9 problems.)
    3. Homework #3 is due on September 29, 2010 at 9:00 AM. (PDF file, 61 KB, 4 problems.)
        Solutions (Don't get used to this, because it won't happen very often!)
    4. Homework #4 is due on October 15, 2010 before 5:00 PM (at the physics front office). (PDF file, 58 KB, 2 problems, or 7 depending how you count...)
    5. Homework #5 is due on Monday November 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM. (PDF file, 72 KB, 4 problems.)
    6. Homework #6 is due on Friday November 5, 2010 at 5:00 PM. (PDF file, 68 KB, 4 problems.)
    7. Homework #7 is due on Friday November 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM. (PDF file, 83 KB, 5 problems.)
    8. Alternative Homework: this set of problems is for you to practice for midterm 3. It will not be graded, so you do not have to turn it in. (PDF file, 66 KB, 4 problems.)   Solutions
    9. Homework #8 is due on Friday December 10, 2010 at 5:00 PM. (PDF file, 76 KB, 10 problems.) Clarifying figures for problems 5 and 6.

exam dates

Midterm 1: Friday October 1, 2010 in class; i.e., from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. in Eng B2.
Midterm 2: Wednesday November 3, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. in Eng B2.
Midterm 3: Wednesday December 1, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. in Eng B2.
Final Exam: Tuesday December 14, 2010, from 4 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Eng D102.

  Solutions to the final exam.

the book

Book cover

“Mechanics,” by L. D. Landau, and E. M. Lifshitz

This is a gorgeous, concise and elegant summary of the course in 150 content packed pages. Landau is one of the most important physicists of the 20th century and this is the first volume in a series of ten, considered by him to be the “theoretical minimum” amount of knowledge required to embark on research in physics.
Side note: In 30 years, only 43 people passed Landau’s exam!

You can find it in the CSU Bookstore (or in Amazon).

The following text books were also used in preparing this course:

“Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics,” by V. I. Arnold

Arnold presents a more modern mathematical approach to the topics of this course, making connections with the differential geometry of manifolds and forms.

“Elements of Hamiltonian mechanics,” by D. ter Haar

This book emphasizes the basic principles, and aims to progress rapidly to the point of being able to handle physically and mathematically interesting problems, without getting bogged down in excessive formalism.

office hours

Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (except during class and when abroad...)

Miguel Alejandro Mostafá

Department of Physics
Colorado State University

1875 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1875

+1 (970) 491-5680